Category Archives: Health Care

robot doctor

Intelligence Amplification

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Everyone’s excited and/or scared about artificial intelligence but should we be excited and/or scared about Intelligence Amplification instead?

I have been interested in this dichotomy for a long time, especially in health care . Socio-culturally, there are many reasons why we don’t accept fully autonomous systems, even when they are safer, faster, and more effective. The DTNS hosts use the example of elevators where a human operator was necessary for several years before we were willing to accept automation, even when they weren’t really doing anything except hitting buttons. We see it now with cars and drones.

teddy bears

Compliance with Social Norms

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Compliance with social norms has both a bright side and a dark side. On the positive, having some basic behaviors that people follow to get along with colleagues and neighbors helps teams perform more fluidly. It keeps society organized and helps us enforce the rule of law. It keeps meetings orderly. It pressures students to pay attention in class.

So how do we know when to promote compliance and when to promote non-compliance? I am not talking about defiance and outright rebellion, just maybe some moderate nonconformity. As individuals, are we well calibrated to know when to conform and when to stray? In our work teams, do we know how to balance the two poles? As a society, are we creating a culture that has a happy mix? The proverbial middle path?

palace guards

Improving Communication Through Reverse Power Poses

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This paper by James Detert and Ethan Burris in Harvard Business Review has an interesting take on something that has been in the news a lot lately (and even a TED talk). The topic is “power posing” and the basic message is that if you adopt a power pose you exert a wide range of influences. It creates an internal frame by making you more confident in yourself. Even if you can’t see yourself in the pose, you know you are doing it.

Studies on power posing show that intentionally adjusting your body posture, facial expressions, and voice can help you express your ideas and concerns and win greater influence. This is true no matter what title or position you hold. Simply comporting yourself as if you’re a rung or two higher makes people act more deferentially toward you. Often, they’re not fully aware that they’re responding this way, yet the effect is in full force in any kind of hierarchy, whether it’s based on formal or informal status.

miltary tank

User Experience for a Volatile World

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Every year, it seems that the “experts” say that there is a new normal. Things are different this time. The world has fundamentally changed. But there is one thing that hasn’t changed. The increasing velocity of change. Eric McNulty has a good summary of what I mean in a recent Strategy+Business.

From regular triple-digits swings in the market to the rapid rise of often profit-free unicorns valued at US$1 billion or more, a possible exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the devolution of the once-hopeful Arab Spring into the chaos of the Syrian civil war, and turmoil from Libya to the Ukraine, this isn’t just a VUCA world anymore; it’s becoming ever more VUCA.

big data

Wisdom Beats Big Data in Health Care

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Today’s topic – wisdom in health care. John Halamka has a great article in Harvard Business Review. It is an opinion piece discussing the danger of the big data craze and how patients with their wearable devices, lifelogging software, and Google searches self-diagnose themselves into an early grave. They can’t translate the heaps of data into wisdom. The algorithms in their health care apps at best get them to the information stage, with some loose guesses on knowledge.

Using the cuff, I took my BP before and after commuting, drinking tea, and attending anxiety-provoking meetings — nearly 100 measurements in a week. The raw data were just numbers, although they helped reveal interesting information — that none of my life activities (commuting, tea drinking, work) influence my blood pressure. The problem, logged as a discrete data point in my electronic health record (EHR), turned out to be my parents.

folded map

Sense of Direction

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I recently came across this article describing a study from a research team at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Their hypothesis was that the difference emerges from hormonal differences, specifically testosterone. Not brain wiring.

Using fMRI, the researchers saw that men in the study took several shortcuts, oriented themselves more using cardinal directions and used a different part of the brain than the women in the study. But when women got a drop of testosterone under their tongue, several of them were able to orient themselves better in the four cardinal directions.

Annual Meeting Banner

HFES 2015 Keynote Address John Nance

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For the remainder of the week we will be featuring post from the HFES 2015 Annual Meeting.

This year’s keynote will be presented by John Nance during the Tuesdaymorning Opening Plenary Session. Nance is a well-known advocate of using the lessons from the recent revolution in aviation safety to revolutionize the patient safety performance of hospitals, doctors, nurses, and others within the health-care domain. His talk, entitled “The Carbon-Based Conundrum,” will deal with the concept that it is only through accepting the inevitability of error that we can eliminate human-caused disasters. As
Nance puts it, “The key to zero disasters is zero denial.”

Pills and Pill Bottle

Medication Lists

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For our design innovation theme, I wanted to present an interesting idea called the Twinlist and open up the floor for some discussion of whether this approach is promising.

Comparing two long lists of any kind is always a challenge. For example, you may have experienced the difficulty of reconciling a bank or credit card statement when comparing the list with your personal tally of transactions. In healthcare the challenge is even more daunting when physicians have to maintain an up-to-date list of a patient’s medications, compare the medications taken at home with the ones taken during a hospital stay, and rapidly put together a new list.

thumbs up

Placebos for Your Placebos

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As you know by now, I am a fan of placebos. They often provide significant benefits and with fewer side effects and much lower costs than “real” medication. How can you argue with that? Just because you are deceived in the process. I am happy to be an advocate, but not an ignorant one. And since I am always telling you about effective placebos, I should be fair and balanced and also tell you when they are not effective.

So I am biting the bullet and sharing with you a paper I just read by a neuroscience team from the University Medical Center in Hamburg, Germany. They used a very small placebo, so that could explain the lack of results, but I thought I should share it anyway.